• Born 1847, Brighton, England
  • Died November 1930

Mary Abigail was born in 1847 in Brighton, England to James Goldsmith and his first wife, Jane Barber. She came to Victoria on the Dutch ship the Six Sisters (Zes Gezusters) in January 1853 with her father James, his second wife Ann, and her two brothers Samuel and James.

After a short stay in Geelong they travelled to Ballarat, living on Bakery Hill, Ballarat East. During the brief battle of Eureka, Mary Abigail was hidden down a mine shaft by her father. The Daylesford Advocate recorded that “She arrived in Ballarat with her parents before the Eureka Stockade in 1854, and while the fight was on she was placed, with other children, in a hole for shelter”. She attended the Wesleyan School, Ballarat from 25 March 1854. In 1868 Mary Abigail married Thomas Barnett (from Tetbury, Gloucestershire) in St Marks Church, Fitzroy. They had eleven children, two of whom died in infancy. Her son Samuel, known as Harry, born in 1884, wrote “that after her first two children died at birth, her doctor told her not to have any more children, as she had a weak heart. How wrong he was; my mother had nine more children after that and she lived to a good age of 84. The doctor that attended then told me that she had a wonderful heart”.

Mary Abigail died in November 1930, and a long obituary appeared in the Ballarat Courier on Monday 19, November.

The Daylesford Advocate of 14 November 1930 noted that “Her husband gave the Art Gallery the sword carried by Captain Wise when he was shot dead in the fight. It was a souvenir at the time, taken by George Bentley, a soldier, who handed it to Mr Barnett”. The paper reported that the eldest son Mr Tom Barnett, managed a butcher’s business and a daughter was the wife of Mr J Keith, President of Ballarat Benevolent Home Committee and Secretary of the Caledonian Society.

There were many floral tributes, from the Ballarat and District Caledonian Society, the Eureka Street State School Committee, the Benevolent Home Ladies’ Committee, Caledonian Society’s Ladies Committee and others. Mary Abigail’s husband, Thomas Barnett, had predeceased her in 1919. Mary Abigail, Thomas and other family members are buried in the New Cemetery.

Notes and photographs courtesy Di Christensen.

Mary Abigail Barnett (Goldsmith) Photograph: Di Christenson

Death Notice

EUREKA SURVIVOR DEAD – Mrs Mary Abigail Barnett, 84, the widow of Thomas Barnett , died at Ballarat last Friday. She arrived in Ballarat with her parents before the Eureka Stockade  in 1854, and while the fight was one she was placed, with other children, in a hole for shelter. Her husband gave the art gallery the sword carried by Captain Wise when he was shot dead in the fight. It was a souvenired at the time by George Bentley , a soldier, who handed it to Mr Barnett. The eldest son of Mr Tom Barrett, who manages a business and daughter is the wife of Mr J. Keith, President of Ballarat Benevolent Home Committee and Secretary of the Caledonian Society.

Daylesford Advocate, 14 November 1930.